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Original Issue

Clinton Portis


On bringing his mother, Rhonnel Hearn, to his senior prom at Gainesville (Fla.) High in 1999

I've always been close to my mom. I guess it was different, but I couldn't believe what a big deal it became. Everyone in school knew about it. She had a good time. We danced. Everyone loved being around her. At midnight I dropped her off back home and went out to continue my night.

On his outstanding track career in high school

As hard as it was, my favorite event was the 4√ó400. It hurts like nothing else. You think football hurts? Go run a quarter at full speed. After that, you can't do anything but lie down. You're whole body locks up.

On his mentor at Miami, fellow Hurricane Edgerrin James

He helped me, and everyone, keep a level head. He did so much so soon, but he stayed grounded. A real life lesson.

On his aquariums

I got one in college, and it completely lit up our place. It took it from looking like a regular pad to upscale living. Ever since, I've had an aquarium everywhere I've been. I have sharks, eels and lionfish. I have someone come in three times a week to check on the fish, clean the tanks and make sure that they eat right. He does a good job putting the right fish together to make sure they don't attack each other.

On his brother Gerald's surviving Hurricane Katrina

He lived in Gulfport [Miss.], and he lost everything: his house, cars, TVs. He was with his wife and two kids, ages three and five; they were stuck there for two or three days. Once they got out, they never went back. They're going to start over in Memphis.

On his first purchase after signing an eight-year, $50.5 million deal with Washington in 2004

I went into Miami and bought a Ferrari that same night. All my life I wanted a Ferrari. It was a champagne-colored 360--the only one of its kind in that color. They had made it for Prince, but he changed his mind at the last minute. I don't have it anymore. I can't tell the story, but I messed it up.

On his 2001 car crash with then Miami teammates Jarrett Payton and Clint Hurtt

Clint was driving Jarrett's convertible, and we hit a retaining wall on the freeway. I still have a scar over my eye. I was pretty banged up. [No one was seriously hurt.] Anyone who saw that car thought we were dead. The car was smushed. But the crash made me open up. Until my junior year in college, nobody knew my personality. I was really shy. But after that wreck--knowing how close I came to not being here--I began hanging with more of my teammates. I began to have fun. I became a more vocal person.

--As told to Lisa Altobelli



photograph by michael j. lebrecht ii/1deuce3 photography